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Zzzzzzzzzz…. We all have trouble staying up in Committee; lack of sleep catches up with us, the salt and dairy that consumes the food put us in a food coma, and, let’s be honest, sometimes proposals are hard to get into.IMG_3073

But, students this year have used their creativity to fabricate different versions of bingo, all related to CONA, to pass the time and stay involved.

The game works by creating a Bingo board and filling the squares with common occurs that could happen within committee. Good examples would include when some says they are from the commonwealth of a state, a fellow delegate falling asleep, or when a division is called.

Happy Bingo!!!

–Beth Walker, NM

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By Sareena Fayaz, PA

In the ‘Trap’ committee, otherwise known as first Committee I, “We put the I in sin,” said Nathaniel Pettit, a delegate from Pennsylvania.

Besides the jokes in Committee I, committee chair Kate Hannick from Missouri “wrote us really nice notes” and “managed to promote good debates within the boundaries of good parliamentary debate,” said Pettit.

Spending all day in committee cannot only lead to interesting debates but also interesting bonds and connections between delegates.

Washington Youth Gov. Jade Chowning, along with other delegates, communicated with some members in her first committee on Facebook before CONA started, but after debating, it “felt awesome to know I made friends that I could not only connect with but also discuss proposals with,” she said.

Chowning also added that as a first-year delegate coming into CONA, she wasn’t too comfortable in her parliamentary procedure skills but “my chairs explained everything to me,” she said.

“It was a positive experience, I had great chairs,” said Chowning, whose combined chemical regulation and safety proposal made it to Third Committee.

Lainey Newman, second-year delegate from Pennsylvania, loved how in her Second Committee, Committee V , the “proposals were enthralling, they covered a variety of topics,” she said.

“I kid you not, I was impressed by every single speaker in some form,” Newman said.

In Kentucky, first-year delegate Nicole Fielder is passionately involved in the Pritchard Committee Student Voice Team (PCSVT), a Kentucky initiative, which raises the level of students’ voices in that state’s education policies.

In first committee, Fielder met Brady Grotton, a delegate from Maine, who to her surprise was familiar with the PCSVT. “Since then we’ve talked about our proposals and gotten to know each other,” she said. “It’s worlds colliding. It’s mindblowing.”

In Fielder’s Second Committee, Committee VI,  Raghavendra Pai, a committee chair from Oklahoma, would do a popular dance called the ‘whip’ on the number five when counting down on the proposal rating scale.

The other committee chair, Helen Streff of Minnesota, lead countdowns in different languages, from Japanese to Dothraki from Game of Thrones. Sometimes delegates who spoke the languages would be asked to lead the countdown or the language would be looked up.

“My favorite [moment in committee] was at the very end Streff said, ‘Since we’re finishing, we’re gonna do it in Finnish,’” Fielder said.

Olivia Cornforth, OK

Wednesday, delegates have the rare opportunity of a free afternoon. Though some will lounge by the pool, take refreshing naps, or simply hang out with friends, CONA offers three distinctive experiences to please restless campers, each with its own list of pros and cons.

  1. The Biltmore Estate: This mansion is a beautiful example of Gilded Age architecture not far from CONA built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, the building is the largest privately owned house in the United States. Admission is $20 for CONA delegates. Pros: The site has beautiful architecture, historical status and gorgeous gardens. Lunch is also included. Cons: The trip takes up the entire afternoon (12:30-5), and pictures cannot be taken inside the Biltmore. Also, some tours do not go through the entire house.
  2. HIKES: CONA offers delegates two hiking experiences. Hike 1 takes a scenic tour up and down the mountain. The hike lasts from 1 to 4 p.m. and departs from the Eureka Hall lobby. Hike 2 takes a slightly easier scenic route up and down the mountain. It lasts from 2 to 5 and also departs from the Eureka Hall lobby. Pros: The hike is free, and delegates get to see the beautiful nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They could even see a bear. It does not take up the entire afternoon of free time. Cons: Delegates could potentially be lost in the woods or fall down the mountain. They could even see a bear. Dehydration and sweating are probable.
  3. BELLY FLOP AND POOL PARTY: Delegates can eat a Eureka Treat, swim or sit on the porch of Eureka Hall with both new and old friends, but regardless of whatever they chose to do in their free time, the afternoon will be full of fun.

By Jack Densmore, TX

The famed Wisconsin mascot, the “Spirit Cow,” was left behind when Wisconsin began their trip to the mountain. In previous years, the Spirit Cow has faced the worst of days, yet only this year he was forgotten.

“He was not kidnapped,” Wisconsin delegate Luke Kokinos said. “He was forgotten. Somebody left him at home.”

Monday evening, the cow returned to the mountain via overnight shipping, only to be later lost.

“Well, nobody is trying to steal it,” Kokinos said. “Nobody is trying to assault it so we’re thinking that Wisconsin might be the safest place for the Spirit Cow for future years.”

Of course, the Wisconsin delegation does have plans for a substitute mascot in place of the Spirit Cow. Hopefully, this new mascot will see better days for Wisconsin than his forgotten cousin.

“There will be a body double for the Spirit Cow,” Kokinos said. “So, in the case of another assassination attempt, it won’t actually affect our real state mascot.”

“There will be a body double for the Spirit Cow,” Kokinos said. “So, in the case of another assassination attempt it won’t actually affect our real state mascot.”

By Essence Jones, IN
Editor in Chief
finnMost delegates join YIG or YAG at some point during their high school career. Some are even lucky enough to join in middle school. A small, select group grow up as YIG/YAG babies. These unofficial delegates are often seen around state conferences and CONA, innocently taking in all that YIG and YAG has to offer. Virginia advisor Sharon Davies brought a new addition to the CONA family this year. The official CONA cherub, also known as Finn Davies, is five months old, and like his mother, hails from Virginia.
Finn Davies already has begun his political career after having met both the governor and lieutenant governor of Virginia at three months old. For other babies, such accomplishments would be surprising, but for a YIG or YAG baby, this can only be expected as great things always come to those associated with these programs. Sharon Davies sat down for an interview and when asked how she believed the experiences Finn will have at CONA and YAG will influence him in the future she responded, “He’ll see that young people can make a difference, and it will be something that he’ll want to be involved with. He’s been a part of YAG for a very long part of his very short life.”
From this statement alone, we can all anticipate that the CONA cherub will grow to be an active CONA
campaigner. So, if you see the CONA cherub stop and speak to him. Who knows who he will become one day?

By Leah Schweibinz, NC

The YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly is a beautiful place. When looking forward to CONA, delegates from all across the country think of not only vibrant debate and discussion but also the beautiful landscape that surrounds the conference center. Every year, many participants make it a point to take a nature walk around the conference grounds, to observe the flora and fauna and to take an opportunity to soak in the place that’s so special to all of us. We hope these photos will give you a sense of what nature has to offer at the Assembly.  Before you leave the mountain, please take in and be thankful for all of the beauty around you. #blessed

By Jack Densmore, TX
Staff Writer
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Bertucci, right, and a fellow supporter celebrate marriage equality in DC.

Joy. Joy of feeling equal. Joy that is equally measured by pride. Pride in being oneself. Pride in being equal. Pride in being able to see history take place.

Pride and joy is what Michigan Gov. Dominic Bertucci felt when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. After many debates and many arguments throughout the years, history was made for an entire generation to see. Bertucci happened to stand where this history took place.

“I was (glad to be there),” Bertucci said. “It was historic. This is a really proud and happy moment, and I am so happy I was able to be there.”
Outside of the Supreme Court, supporters of same-sex marriage gathered around. The Michigan delegation took a trip to the Supreme Court before coming to CONA.
“It was indescribable,” Bertucci said. “There were so many people who were just so happy, and there was such an energy around us that I can’t even describe. … I had such a connection with everybody even though we were complete and total strangers.”
For years, same-sex marriage supporters have waited for marriage rights. Friday, they finally got their wish, and a flurry of profile pictures on Facebook were changed to have rainbow effects in support of equality.
“It was definitely overdue,” Bertucci said. “I’m happy it came now better late than never.” With any topic there is always opposition, and there are those who put people down because of who they are. For Bertucci, the opposition never affected him.
“There were always people who had bad things to say, but they were always irrelevant,” Bertucci said. “I blew them off, it didn’t matter much to me.”
Now any couple can marry who they want, and Bertucci has been greatly impacted by the decision.
“It had and will continue to have a pretty big impact, and being there made it all the more a big deal,” Bertucci said. “Now everyone has the freedom to marry whom they choose.”
In the end, the United States has made a huge decision. Bertucci, and many others have said that this is a proud moment for the country.
“I feel all around great,” Bertucci said. “It’s such a proud and happy moment for our country. Couples now have the right to marry, and that’s a right that they’ve been waiting for.”